What is a BID?
A Sandwell Joker told me that B.I.D. stood for "Bent Incompetent Dickheads" whereas, in fact, the acronym stands for "Business Improvement District." Businesses in a specified area can vote to pay extra business rates with the dosh going into a separate pot to promote those same traders and thereby - hopefully - increase their profits.
Hang on, you will immediately ask, Sandwell Labour hate business and despise the concept of enterprise and the generation of "profits". For 44 years since "Sadwell" was formed on April Fools' Day, 1974 the Labour Dictatorship have shafted commercial enterprises (at least those not run by cronies) so that the benighted Borough is at or near the bottom of most deprivation tables and in 2017 was voted the second most unhappy place to live in the UK. What is it doing trying to promote BIDs? The answer, of course, is money.... As if Jan Britton's Council - awash with fraud, corruption, cronyism and incompetence - is not opaque enough what with rigid secrecy and a cavalier and unlawful approach to Freedom of Information, comrades can get their grubby paws on more revenue and then spend it to the glorification of "The Party" and themselves without having to account to YOU - local voters.
The comrades are also riven with envy of other areas and look at BIDs in Brum and elsewhere with covetous thoughts (wrongly in my humble submission). Not only is there a pot of extra cash paid for by local businesses but, in the specific case of Wednesbury, Labour boasted how they could use the BID to lever even more spends out of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership!
How is a BID created?
A "proposer" tries to promote the scheme. In the case of the BID which already exists in West Bromwich, this was promoted by Sandwell Council/Labour (one and the same thing) itself. That is perfectly legal although the creation of the BID is not supposed to be "party political". But, of course, so ingrained is the evil Pyongyang-style Dictatorship in every aspect of Sandwell life now, that becomes an impossibility.
It will surprise any student of American politics how much "gerrymandering" still goes on. This is the drawing on the boundaries of voting areas so as to favour one party. Labour decreed that Wednesbury should have a BID and so Jan Britton's bent paid service set about to deliver the "right" result. Here is the BID area they created and you will immediately notice that it is a very odd shape and sprouts off from the town centre via peculiar branches:
The southern spur incorporates West Midlands Passenger Transport who could be expected to toe the political line and agree to the scam. The Northern spur reaches through a residential area to incorporate the large motor dealership, The Trade Centre, who are mysteriously said to be strong supporters of the Dictatorship generally and friendly with one local Councillor in particular. They too would "go for it".
Well that's only two votes you might say but it doesn't quite work like that. For the BID to be formed there must be a simple majority (ie 50.1%) of the businesses within the proposed area AND a simple majority (50.1%) in the rateable values of the votes cast. (The law refers to a lovely old-fashioned word "hereditaments" which I mention purely because it was the birthday yesterday of my regular reader and friend Ian Jelf and he will like it!)
What this means is that the big businesses call the tune. The rateable value of Morrisons for example is going to be much higher than a corner shop. (In fact Morrisons get 3 votes in the process anyway as, eg, their petrol station counts as a separate business.)
In the real world outside The Hermit Kingdom of Sadders you might expect a sensible Council or other proposer to take expert advice on whether such a scheme is feasible or worthwhile. One would wish to go to an independent expert (though we have seen many times in this blog that Jan Britton's bent staff often give out such work without a tendering process and to firms that have already produced "satisfactory" results for them - trusting their objectivity to, er, produce an "independent" report "lol" - whilst dangling the prospect of remunerative future work in front of them if they "play ball".)
But soft! What if the expert says a BID scheme for a ghastly sh*thole like Wednesbury is a waste of time? What would the likes of the Liar Cllr Costigan** and Zorro say then? Jan the Man and his boys (and it seems to be mostly boys here) had the answer - let's get a report from someone who boasts openly that she has a one hundred per cent record in BIDs being created by ballot after her feasibility studies and calls herself a "BID consultant"! Step forward Mrs Michelle Baker:
Indeed Mrs Baker was already known to Britton's boys as she had produced the feasibility for, er, the West Bromwich BID scheme for, er, Sandwell Council/Labour! (I have not seen her no doubt thoroughly objective report for West Brom but guess what - she was all for it! Curiously she says she did the work in early 2013 but the ballot did not take place until early 2015 by which time one might have thought it was a bit out of date?)
Of course, Britton will soon tell us all how the tendering process operated when Mrs Baker was given this new work.....
Once again Mrs Baker was thoroughly professional and diligent and stated all the evidence supported a Wednesbury BID. Indeed her own map included West Mids Passenger Transport and The Trade-Centre in the suggested BID area. And so it was "all systems go".
As an aside, Mrs Baker's professionalism doesn't appear to extend to compliance with Company Law judging by Companies House records of yesterday - 22nd August, 2018:
And so there was to be a ballot. A steering committee was set up. You would imagine that this consisted of local business folk who were going to end up paying for this. Interestingly one image of a meeting put on social media showed only Councillors and Council employees in attendance!
In an earlier post I showed that the local Labour Party were anxious to promote the ridiculous scheme and at a Wednesbury Party meeting were prepared to ignore the stricture against party political activity:
Lest we forget, this is supposed to be a scheme to help local traders/businesses not Costigan and her ilk. Mrs Baker said there were 235 votes in the area but when Sandwell Council/Labour got their hands on it this had mysteriously increased to 254. (I have seen a list of the businesses which shows 261 businesses but I cannot comment on that small discrepancy at the present time).
On the list with separate votes in the process were no less than 12 Sandwell properties (the Town Hall, car parks etc) which in this joke scheme garners them 12 votes straight away. As above, WM Passenger Transport were on board with another vote as were, of course, the paramilitary arm of SMBC, West Midlands Police, with another vote. All traders/businesses "lol".
The Leisure Trust - which relies entirely for its existence on money from Sandwell Council/Labour -was another vote in the bag as was that other well-known Wednesbury business, the Fire Station! And so the Council team, led by Mr Gerry Ritchie, had 16 votes in the bag before they started.
But as we have seen Jan Britton's Circus is not only bent but incompetent and the first ballot was f*cked up in true SMBC style and had to be re-run.
Meanwhile, naughty people were going round the town telling folk that because Morrisons and the Leisure Centre were voting in favour of the BID it was a done deal! Who were these people? Info please!
I am still awaiting more information of the identity of the Councillor who was seen spending afternoons with Richard Marshall in back street boozers - contact details below!
Mr Ritchie has made great play that there WERE traders on the steering committee but it did include SIX Labour Councillors, FOUR SMBC employees and a Copper ie another SMBC clone. Ritchie set out a programme and you will see for yourselves what the reality of the situation was (and still is?)
Despite this open proselytising by Labour Councillors it seems they were still a little queasy about being seen to be heavily involved in rigging the ballot and so, enter stage left, Mr Michael Maynard. I have no idea who this character is, save that he appears to have an interest in local history, but he set up a Facebook Group etc cheerleading the scheme! (Is he a trader? What has he got to do with any of this?) Whatever the situation "official notices" started appearing on this social media including one "signed" by Mr Gerry Ritchie himself. An endless stream of pro-BID propaganda emanated from Mr Maynard. Labour Councillors (and Council staff) also took to social media to promote the scheme presumably thinking social media activity did NOT constitute party-political activity "lol":
Even a London-resident Labour MP endorsed the BID scheme even though he is NOT the MP for Wednesbury! Step forward the bullying thug Tom Watson with three Labour "councillors":
You will see that the Liar Costigan tweeted this photo and it was retweeted by our friend Maynard!
There were allegations that some businesses were unaware of the vote and did not receive ballot papers but Labour won the day on a 31% turnout - hardly a ringing endorsement for the crazy scheme. Out of 254 (or 261?) votes 54 were in favour. We have seen that 16 of those were SMBC or associated organisations voting for the BID. I understand that Morrisons with their three votes were in favour. Presumably The Trade Centre was too. 25 brave traders were against (and if you stand up to the Labour bullying locally there will always be reprisals).
But because the big boys voted in favour the vote on rateable value was £1,571,625 for -v- £171, 875 against. Thus it is blindingly obvious that the 25 against were mostly the little guys who can least afford more tax (see further below).
Many of the small traders spoke to local community activist Darryl Magher and expressed disgust at the way the ballot had been run. He put in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request and Jan Britton's bent paid staff (presumably acting with his authority) initially said the FOI Act didn't apply as all this was nothing to do with Sandwell Council!!!! There was also more obfuscation in that SMBC also tried to disassociate itself from stuff on the Facebook page claiming that it was nothing to do with them even though they were also attempting to rely on it to show that the ballot had been properly advertised etc! Having one's cake and eating it!
There was an interesting complaint from a very well-known large national chain of businesses. Mr Ritchie was very happy to show that when Mrs Baker did her feasibility study their local manager filled in a questionnaire. Someone if Jan Britton's bent staff seems to have taken that as a "vote for" and no-one actually involved the large company any further and - they say - they never received a ballot paper (this is a company that employs nearly 50 local people). This is the typical way the Sandwell socialists p*ss over local businesses/employers! A person from their Head Office wrote to the Government saying that they had branches in 180 BID areas but had never been treated like the way SMBC had treated them. They said, inter alia:
"We had no knowledge of the BID, and had no notifications about it. When I tried to look into it on the internet, I could not find a BID website or Business Plan, only a facebook account."
The business plan was released by Jan's bent staff AFTER the vote. The national chain also wrote:
"The business plan was very basic when I finally received a copy." The writer then tore the figures apart.
Remember this was written after the vote!
Immediately after the rigged ballot Costigan and Co lost no time and a "Board" was set up to run the BID including three SMBC associates ie (1) a copper; (2) someone from the Leisure Trust and (3) the clownish Cllr Zorro.
The person from the big national chain head office wrote to the Government:
"BIDs are meant to be set up to benefit local businesses and should not have this level of interference, control or influence from politicians".
Quite so but fat chance of that being the case under the sordid Labour greasers in Sadders!
Thanks to the hard work of Mr Magher, objections from the big national chain referred to above and complaints from various small traders who stood firm in objecting to the way the ballot was run, despite claims of intimidation, the Government overturned the BID ballot on the ground of "MATERIAL IRREGULARITY". The BID is dead but Zorro and others are desperate to resurrect it.
It is not known how much Jan Britton and his staff have cost the taxpayer in this rigged process but the word on the street is that it is AT LEAST £10,000! That is money being robbed from you and I! But Labour won't give up and Britton has allegedly been ordered to arrange a new ballot - again at OUR expense.
An aside: When I was being interviewed at Oldbury Lock-up by, I kid ye not, WMP "Complex Crime Unit" Costigan had lied to her pals in the force about me being out leafletting on the streets of Wednesbury against the BID (totally untrue but watch this space "lol"). Myself and my Solicitor were mystified as to why, even if this was true, this constituted criminality. We now know that WMP have been in league all along with SMBC to force this wretched nonsense through including being on the steering committee and the Board. And so they harassed me about this blatant lie even though I had a solicitor present! This is a matter I am now referring to my MP.
Criticism of BIDs
One major criticism of BIDs - voiced by organisations such as Civic Voice - is that they are undemocratic. Instead of local authorities spending money and then being accountable for the way it is spent (at least in authorities where, unlike Sandwell, they operate reasonably openly) politicians and various unelected and unaccountable people get to decide how the money is spent. This is done through company structures and so the public knows - a very long time after the event - roughly how much was spent but not what it was spent on since the company doesn't have to provide that detail in its accounts.
Just by way of example the business district in Birmingham (you know - the one with all the uneven pavements, street brawls outside pubs and beggars/rough sleepers everywhere) has its own "Colmore BID." This unaccountable outfit also operates through a company, Colmore Business District Limited. There is also political interference here with the likes of Cllr Brigid Jones on the Board. The last available accounts are from as long ago as 31st March, 2017 and the next lot don't have to be filed until 31st December, 2018. You only get to see figures long after the event.
Besides the extra business rates Colmore BID also apply for extra funding and there is no accountability on how the money is spent. They do present a list of "achievements" in the accounts but we are not told on how much was spent on what and whether this was good value against any sort of benchmark. For example the BID runs a summer food festival but there is nothing to say whether it makes money from that or loses money.
In the last financial year for which accounts are available the BID's income was £925,000. Not a great deal of money in the scheme of things. Bearing in mind that most of the "Directors" are unpaid, have a guess how many people it takes to administer that relatively small fund? One? Three?
No, The accounts say that to spend this sum there are, wait for it...., 21 directors and 6 staff ie TWENTY SEVEN people! Moreover, the BID feels the need to have expensive offices to do its job spending a stonking £19,950 a year on land and buildings!
It may have stopped now but the BID had a rule that no work was to be done on Friday afternoons as everyone was to go out on the p*ss. Happy Days for the bourgeoisie.
This is all wholly undemocratic and unaccountable although the local businesses seemingly want to keep it that way (and who can blame them when Bham Council is another disastrous Labour basket case like Sandwell - although without the dictatorial control the latter enjoys).
In the so-called business plan for Wednesbury (which, as above, was a pathetic effort from Britton's team according to a large national company) it is said that the BID will raise £335k over 5 years (if a lot of traders don't go bust in the meantime). If it ever happens and the comrades and allies get that loot they will have to say what was spent but otherwise they won't have to tell you a thing about how or why they divvied up or who to!
We could see above that it is the small traders who have stood up against forking out even more tax in a difficult trading environment and, ironically, where BIDS DO occasionally work they usually mean an increase in rents across the area - hitting the little man or woman even more! Not that the Sandwell "socialists" would worry about that....
Most of the useless BID's don't achieve very much with the odd social event being organised and such like. Will the small traders really benefit from some second rate Jazz band tooting its way down The Shambles?
"Inane Elaine" Costigan is all for the BID but she also classed herself, back in the day, as a personal friend of Tony Gallagher of the eponymous local retail park? Question how much damage that has done to retail in Wednesbury town itself? Think how Merry Hill screwed Dudley...
Costigan - as a member of Sandwell's joke "Cabinet" (ROFLMAO) - is also pressing for the destruction of Lion Farm Fields in another bent Sandwell Labour deal where they want to destroy 19ha of vital green space to build an enormous new shopping centre. This is on top of the other huge shopping centre which Labour have already granted planning permission for near to Sandwell and Dudley Station.
Lion Farm is just 5.9 miles [corrected figure] from Wednesbury Morrisons. Two huge new shopping developments will hammer what is left of Wednesbury town into flattened sh*t and a few pathetic "events" and barbecues is not going to stop that!
Local traders should ask Zorro, Costigan and the anonymous Cllr Pam Hughes (who she? - Ed.) why they are supporting two new shopping centres so close to Wednesbury which will destroy their businesses. Do let me know their replies....
Wednesbury - A Leisure Destination
Some Wednesbury Labour folk have stars in their eyes but sh*t for brains. The BID document laughably says that part of the plan is to make Wednesbury town a "Leisure Destination". Well good luck with polishing that particular turd!
|The Self-Righteous Sisters!|
West Bromwich BID
You will, of course, have noticed what a startling success the WB BID has been "lol"! Ironically "the man with five names" is the Sandwell Labour stooge on their board - Anthony Paul Thomas James Moore. This is the cypher who, incredibly, now fancies himself as a property developer "lol", and is the man trying to force through the destruction of Lion Farm Fields for a new shopping centre (see above) which will cause untold damage to, er, West Brom centre!
Incidentally, I was talking to Cllr Hosell the other day about the West Brom market and I did say that the Council built a shopping centre very close to it with an enormous Tesco and the likes of Poundworld (deceased) and this inevitably hit market traders. Now Cllr Moore is on a Board supposedly helping the businesses in West Brom whilst simultaneously forcing through a project that will destroy many of them FFS! You really couldn't make it up.
Meanwhile, one of the principal objects of a BID is that it provides EXTRA money to promote local businesses. It is not there to duplicate services that US taxpayers are already paying for or that businesses are paying for through their business rates. But, in the last few days Cllr Paul Moore and the BID Board and businesses have taken the piss out of locals and asked them to VOLUNTEER to do the Council's job of street cleaning for them! Here is one of their adverts:
Alas I know some of my readers are thick c*nts as they keep voting for Labour in Sandwell but if you fall for this b*llocks you seriously need help and fast!
Please use the donations button on the right-hand side if you can afford a small donation to keep this blog going. If you read this on a mobile you need to click through to the web version to donate. This blog is under unprecedented attack from Eling and Britton in an effort to destroy free speech in Sandwell but we must soldier on to bring true facts to local people.
Destruction of Documents
Jan Britton laughably boasted that the Wragge Report drew a line under the fraud and corruption of his first few years in charge [sic]. There are now worrying reports coming out of Oldbury Council House that his bent paid service are destroying documents over six years old to bury the evidence once and for all (yet another reason why the failure of WMP to properly investigate wrongdoing may be stymied anyway). If this is true presumably Britton is authorising this? Info welcome as ever....
In the case of the West Brom Bid Jan's bent team say they gave ALL the documentation surrounding that BID to the separate company set up to run it. Bear in mind Mrs Baker was instructed in Spring 2013 all that documentation is less than 6 years old and should have been retained by SMBC. It was our money that paid for all that and we are entitled to see it via the Freedom of Information Act (which, of course, does not apply to BID Co's). I am writing to the relevant Government department since Britton is saying the 2013/14/15 BID documentation is now unavailable. I think this is unlawful (as well as incompetent - remember my blog about the disaster with the commercial leases?).Watch this space....
A Final Message to Wednesbury Traders, Large and Small...
Sandwell Labour have had your pants down once with a rigged BID ballot. Are you going to let them do it to you again?
I appreciate that small businesses are intimidated and threatened by Labour (do keep records and this can be taken further) but remember that you have beaten them once on this nonsense and can do so again. It is hard to stand up to their bullying - especially when the police are also part of it - as I know personally but be strong. Solidarity my friends! As above, ask Costigan and Co how Lion Farm and Fountain Retail Parks in Oldbury will help you? Ask the police what they are doing about fighting crime when they are sitting in on endless meetings with the corrupt Council about crappy schemes like this.
For the big companies - The Morrison's, Poundland's etc - do your research. Look at what Costigan did with Wednesbury Celebrates. Look at the Council's appalling record of fraud and corruption. You have worked hard to earn good reputations nationally and locally. Do you want to risk that by association with wrong 'uns? Do you honestly think that fraternising with a business-hating Council will do your bottom-line any good?
You have been warned.......
* Big businesses like Morrisons, Poundland etc should think twice about association with this character. Perhaps they should have a word with "The Sheriff of Wednesbury" about "that" incident at the Rugby Club and take a look at the video of the West Midland Mayor Andy Street's "Ask Andy" session in Oldbury when Zorro flounced out dragging his subservient female entourage with him! Is he really up to snuff - as we haven't seen any evidence of that locally yet?
** Costigan was Treasurer when Wednesbury Celebrates was involved in a fraud scandal. She failed to declare a material interest when sitting on a Planning Committee (more anon) and she gave a false statement about the writer to her friends at West Midlands Police (who have, seemingly, not yet questioned her yet whether that was conspiracy to pervert the course of justice).
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